NEW DELHI – Amid escalating bilateral tension over the unrest in Kashmir Valley, India Aug. 17 said that Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar will go to Islamabad for talks with his Pakistani counterpart, but will focus on “aspects” related to cross-border terrorism.
According to sources, while accepting the invite by Pakistani Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry, India has conveyed that it “rejects the self-serving allegations (of Pakistan) over Jammu and Kashmir in totality” and asserted that the northern state is an integral part of India “where Pakistan has no locus standi.”
“Since aspects related to cross-border terrorism are central to the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir, we have proposed that discussions between the Foreign Secretaries be focused on them,” the sources said.
On Aug. 15, Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Gautam Bambawale was handed over an invitation addressed to Jaishankar to visit Pakistan “for talks on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute that has been the main bone of contention between India and Pakistan.”
Jaishankar’s acceptance of the invite comes as Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar on Tuesday commented that going to Pakistan was akin to “going to hell.”
The Foreign Secretary’s would be the second high-ranking visit after that of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh who was in Islamabad early this month for a SAARC ministerial.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s scheduled visit to the neighboring country to attend a two-day SAARC finance ministers meet later this month is still under a cloud. The conference is on August 25-26 in Islamabad.
Rajnath Singh’s visit was clouded in controversy after he landed amid anti-India protests by several groups. He also faced-off with his counterpart Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan over Jammu and Kashmir during their respective speeches, and skipped a dinner invite to Saarc ministers.
New Delhi accuses Islamabad of arming and training militants fighting in Jammu and Kashmir.
India-Pakistan ties have become frosty after large scale violence broke out in Jammu and Kashmir following the killing of popular militant commander Burhan Wani on July 8. Over 60 people have died in clashes with security forces in Kashmir Valley.
Amid the frostiness, three Indian MPs are visiting Islamabad for the first SAARC Young Parliamentarians’ Conference. Indian lawmakers Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo of Biju Janata Dal of Odisha, Devji Patel of Bharatiya Janata Party and Alok Tiwari of Samajwadi Party are participating in the event.
The two-day conference is aimed at offering young parliamentarians’ a narrative in the run-up to the SAARC Summit Pakistan is to host in November. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been invited to attend the SAARC Summit.